City of Milwaukee analysts have pointed out basic short-comings in information the City of Waukesha has provided in support of a controversial plan to divert Lake Michigan water to the City of Waukesha, and also - - perhaps - - into an expanded water service territory including parts of the Town of Waukesha, Pewaukee, Delafield and Genesee.
Diverted Great Lakes water sales by the City of Milwaukee to a community like Waukesha - - separate from regional mandates in a 2008 multi-state Great Lakes management Compact - - must also meet requirements for water buyers spelled out in Milwaukee Common Council four-year-old resolution #080457 (full text, here), regarding existing comprehensive planning, and transportation, housing and jobs plans in the buyer's city to help Milwaukee address those needs for its residents.You'd think that Waukesha's presentations would by now be air-tight and polished, as Milwaukee's conditions have been known since 2008, with Waukesha having completed its application two years ago and in the hands already of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - with analysis down the line by the other Great Lakes states if the DNR moves it along after hearings.
And it's worth noting that water diversion schemes drawn up after lengthy work by consultants and water officials have been turned back because reviewers raised substantial issues with the documents.
In fact, at one early public discussion in the Waukesha Common Council chambers, Great Lakes water expert Peter Annin told the assemblage that if there was one certainty in the diversion review process, it was that at least one state would send the whole thing back for more work.
Some years ago, New Berlin asked for a relatively small diversion from Milwaukee, and even though the review required a lower-level of approval than what Waukesha will face because of geographical and legal factors, the initial draft needed a lot of revisions that delayed the eventual approvals.
And the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has advised the City of New Berlin that its 2006 application for a diversion - - touted last year by the DNR as "complete and comprehensive" - - must be clarified and expanded.And when the DNR sent the New Berlin application to the other states for a mere advisory review - - Waukesha's will require a much tougher analysis, with the states actually formally saying "aye" or "nay," with unanimity required- - the reviews as submitted to the DNR, and summarized below, were downright ugly:
In at least 26 categories of "efficient water use," "water supply alternatives." and "environmental impacts," according to a letter received last month by New Berlin officials and consultants.
New York: On Aug. 15, New York officials said the application was without key studies, complete data, adequate water supply descriptions, enough system and geological maps and “descriptions of the situation and feasible options.” New York opined that there was “no evidence that the applicant is aware of or familiar with the full range of applicable state and national regulations, laws, agreements or treaties” and cited other deficiencies or possible inaccuracies. Additionally, New York observed that “the statement of no cumulative impacts is unsupported by any data in the document and does not address potential cumulative impacts to Lake Michigan water levels, shoreline, other users, water-dependent natural resources, etc.”Waukesha has said it's on a tight schedule to get the diversion and water-return system in place by June, 2018.
Illinois: On July 14, Illinois officials suggested the application could be strengthened with data of “forecasts of future water use, both inside and outside the Great Lakes basin.” Illinois also suggested that New Berlin extend its sprinkling ban, evaluate the effectiveness of its conservation planning, and expand its search for well-water alternatives to its proposed Lake Michigan diversion that could eliminate the need for a diversion.
Michigan: On Sept. 25, the state of Michigan said it would not begin a formal review until a full-scale diversion application was received. On Oct. 31, its attorney general said that without a formal application meeting federal standards provided by the U.S. Water Resources Development Act, New Berlin could not proceed.
Getting your "t's" crossed and "i's" dotted in advance would appear to be a necessity, as the far-simpler New Berlin case (no return flow big questions, no contentious service territory maps or water volume questions) has shown.